St Pete Envisions a Future Free of Traffic Snags
By SHELLY STECK REALE, Correspondent, TB Reporter
The “Complete Streets” concept seeks to make St. Pete’s roadways safe and easy to use for all types of transportation and all types of people.
ST. PETERSBURG – Imagine a city in which bicycles travel from place to place with the same ease as cars and other motorized traffic.
That’s the idea behind St. Petersburg’s Complete Streets program. It’s the local edition of a national push by Smart Growth America to make sure everyone – pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities – can safely get where they want to go.
Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from their destinations.
Adopting the Complete Streets concept means that St. Petersburg must design and operate roadways with all users in mind.
On Saturday (June 17), ShiftStPete and the Florida Consumer Action Network hosted the “BlockbyBlock: Minimum Grid” ride guided bike tour. The tour traveled existing bikeways and explored potential new routes that could be used in attaining the Complete Streets goals
“The idea of the minimum grid concept is that we can have a network connecting the whole city with safe bike routes that anyone from ages 8 to 80 could ride on to get where they’re going,” said Lisa Frank, campaign organizer with FCAN. “Our goal is that, wherever you are in the city, you would be within a quarter mile of a really comfortable, family friendly bike route.”
Despite the threat of rain Saturday, about 50 area residents and business owners gathered at Crescent Lake Park, 1320 5th St N, then traveled the protected bike lanes on First Avenue S through downtown St. Pete.
From there, they traveled up Sixth Street S past the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus on their way to the winding, brick streets and hidden paths of Roser Park. They turned onto Eighth Street to ride through historic Uptown back to Crescent Lake Park to complete the loop.
“It’s really exciting to see a city and community be mutually invested in coming together to examine what Complete Streets can mean for St. Petersburg,” said Vanessa Wheeler, executive director of ShiftStPete, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization that co-hosted the ride. “The level of excitement for this event affirmed we’re on the right track in advocating for better biking and walking in St. Pete.”
A quick debriefing at the end of the event gave riders and residents an opportunity to weigh in on the ride, as well as on proposed future bike networks, and other aspects of the St. Pete Complete Streets implementation plan.
The concept has the support of at least one St. Petersburg council member who went along for the ride.
“I love riding bikes. And, I have grandkids; I want to make sure the streets are safe for them,” Lisa Wheeler-Bowman said. “When I bike with my granddaughter now, she can only go up and down the sidewalk which isn’t much fun. I want her to be able to explore the whole city. Complete Streets is part of making that possible.”
To read the FCAN report highlighting the health and safety concerns on St. Petersburg’s streets, go to fcan.org.
St. Petersburg | Traffic | Transportation | Lisa Wheeler-Bowman | Complete Streets | Bicycles | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
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